Jeff Buckley - Grace

Regular price $ 29.99

180g Vinyl Reissue

Death loomed over music in the ’90s. Several of the decade’s most promising musicians lived just long enough to leave a mark on the world before leaving it far too soon. Kurt Cobain quipped about naming Nirvana’s final album I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, a joke that became all too real with his suicide. He was later joined in death by two of his grunge compatriots, Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell — the latter of whom, many thought, had overcome his demons long ago. 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.’s feud ended not with reconciliation but with the deaths of both men. (Biggie’s debut, lest we forget, was ominously named Ready to Die.) And then there’s Jeff Buckley, whose death may be the most meaningless of them all: he simply went for a swim in a river and was pulled under the water in the wake of a passing boat.

Buckley had only one album to his name when he died, but my word, what an album it was. Grace hit shelves in 1994, arguably alternative rock’s single greatest year; its contemporaries included Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Beck’s Mellow Gold, Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, Hole’s Live Through This, Green Day’s Dookie, and Weezer’s (first) self-titled album, to name just a few. The question isn’t whether or not Grace was superior to them — you can decide that one for yourself — but it sounded so fundamentally unlike those other albums that it might as well have come from another era. American alternative rock (as opposed to Britpop) was iconoclastic, disdainful of the hubris and hedonism of classic rock; moreover, it sounded ugly, and it dealt with ugly emotions.

Grace, on the other hand, was so … pretty. Compared with the blunt force riffage of Cobain, Kim Thayil (of Soundgarden), and other grunge guitarists, Buckley’s guitarwork was nimbler and more melodic and made much greater use of reverb than distortion. But prettiest of all remains Buckley’s voice — an instrument that has been described as “angelic” and “ethereal” so many times that it baits exasperation until you listen to it again and realize holy shit, it really is that special. The range and clarity of Buckley’s voice enabled him to not just cover but reinterpret seemingly every corner of the classic rock canon, which he had obvious respect for; filtered through Buckley’s voice box, the likes of Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Nina Simone, Van Morrison, and Leonard Cohen became something else entirely.

Mojo Pin 5:42
Grace 5:22
Last Goodbye 4:35
Lilac Wine 4:32
So Real 4:43
Hallelujah 6:53
Lover, You Should've Come Over 6:44
Corpus Christi Carol (For Roy) 2:57
Eternal Life 4:52
Dream Brother 5:26